As the ninth storm of the winter battered Britain this week, where’s the beauty in our wild, woolly weather?
Whipped up and frenzied; our storm-lashed coasts are becoming a staple of the weather news coverage. To capture the spectacle of wind and rain and sea, the fool-hardy tog up and brave the elements, phone camera in (a slippery) hand. And no pets at home, they are walked along for the show too…
We are pretty used to sophisticated weather reporting but here is an even more cerebral view of our worldwide weather data. Nathalie Miebach designs musical sculptures based on rich scientific data related to astronomy, ecology and meterology. Her work mixes up art and science to produce illustrative structures of environmental change. For a fascinating interpretation watch this TED talk…
There’s many a stormy song out there. But Noel Coward’s lyrics to ‘Come the Wild, Wild Weather’ have a poignancy that the pop versions often lack;
Come the wild, wild weather,
Come the wind and the rain,
Come the little joy, come the pain,
We shall still be together
When our life’s journey ends,
For wherever we chance to go
We shall always be friends.
(From the 1960 play, ‘Waiting in the Wings’, about 2 elderly actresses looking back on their starry youth and love, starring Dame Sybil Thorndike and Coward’s lifelong partner, Graham Payne.)
Stories: Storms are an oft-used feature of power in films and novels and plays. From Poseidon to Noah, storytellers have long since known that wild weather is spice for a good story. These tales tell how natural forces turn lives upside-down (animal and human). And today’s film scriptwriters often use storms as atmospheric scene setters (Life of Pi), to add tension (The Ice Storm) and to comment on global warming (The Day After Tomorrow, 2012). Wild weather also gives a place for characters to show their grit and determination (The Impossible) and in our 4k, 3D, Super HD age of digital films; filming in harsh climates makes for great visuals (The Revenant).
But it’s in the imagination of the theatre-goer where storms can play as both powerful and spectacular; not least in Shakespeare’s “The Tempest”. A new high-tech interpretation of which will be showing at the RSC, Stratford at the end of 2016.
(“In a unique partnership with Intel, we will be using today’s most advanced technology in a bold reimagining of Shakespeare’s magical play, creating an unforgettable theatrical experience.” RSC)
The Tempest: A tragi-comedy about betrayal, sorcery, revenge, power and renewal.
Now popular as a production in schools and with acting troupes, this was the great playwright’s final play. At it’s centre is a violent storm and a cast of stormy relationships. For the Bard, this tempest provided a place to break things and rebuild them; to look at destruction and the revival of the self.
A short synopsis of the Tempest:
Prospero was Duke of Milan until forcefully usurped by his brother, Antonio and supporters; Alonso, King of Naples, and the King’s brother Sebastian. Cast away with his daughter Miranda, he now lives on a remote island with only 2 other residents; a witches son, Caliban and a spirit, Ariel. Twelve years later, and intent on revenge, he raises a magical storm that shipwrecks his enemies on his shores. What begins as a search for retribution becomes a journey of acceptance…
The shipwrecked travellers are separated by Ariel. Alonso’s son Ferdinand is ensnared in Prospero’s camp, where he and Miranda quickly fall in love. Prospero sets Ferdinand many challenges to prove his love is true. The King of Naples – on the other side of the island -is bereft at the loss of his son and his brother attempts to kill him for his crown.
Prospero is finally satisfied that Ferdinand is good enough for his daughter. He plans an elaborate wedding ceremony, vowing that upon its completion he will abandon his sorcery. Ariel brings Alonso and his followers to Prospero. Now restored as Duke of Milan, he confronts his enemies and forgives them. The betrothal of Ferdinand and Miranda seals and heals the rift between Naples and Milan.
Finally, Prospero grants Ariel his freedom and prepares to leave the island finally homeward bound.
It can be inconvenient, it may be damaging, it’s our wintry weather.
Enjoy it, embrace it, it could be a chance to make anew.
“The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind” (Bob Dylan)